Seeking God’s Will in Uncertainty
Hello! I’m Becca! I just graduated (last week!) from USC, and I’ve been attending Lighthouse for the past 4 years. I wanted to share how God has been humbling and teaching me in this particular COVID season through a big decision I had to make a few weeks ago. I hope it is a comforting reminder of God’s sovereignty and love, especially in times of uncertainty!
The past 9 months of my life have had one underlying thread of stress, struggle, and excitement: applying to law school. I applied in December and began to hear back from schools in January. I looked forward to admitted student visits in the spring, hoping that a difficult choice between various schools would be made easier by these visits. However, news of COVID-19 shutting down travel dampened my excitement, and sure enough all of my visits were canceled by mid-March. I reached the limits of my decision-making ability and found that I could only make a choice by letting go of control and trusting where God was leading my heart. By April, I had decided to attend Harvard Law School!
By this time, I’d gotten used to doing life online, including virtual law school visits and information sessions. As I learned more about Harvard Law, my excitement for law school grew tremendously. I dreamed about what law school would be like, going to classes, making friends, doing clinics, exploring this profession and academic interest I love so much, learning how to practically seek justice for the oppressed… My mental picture of law school grew rose-tinted and beautiful, and I just couldn’t wait to start!
Once again, COVID-19 messed up all my plans as an online fall became a real possibility. This terrified me, not just because I hate online classes, but also because I would lose all the other things I had been dreaming about for so long. My perfect picture of law school was growing warped, and I no longer wanted it. I began to consider deferring my attendance and learned that in order to defer for a year, I needed a professional or academic opportunity to pursue in the meantime. And I needed to request that deferral by May 1 (which was in two weeks)! Within the span of a week, I scrambled and applied to a fellowship through a law-related program I knew. By God’s miraculous providence, I was allowed an interview and received confirmation of my acceptance a week later on April 29. This was, however, just two days before my final deadline of May 1, the date I needed to either commit to Harvard or submit my deferral request.
It was a game-time decision. For two weeks, I had agonized daily over my impending decision, consulted the internet, acquaintances, friends, family, and other classmates considering deferring, and tried to make an informed decision. But in the guise of “making a wise decision,” I continued to rely on my own intelligence and power to make a decision about a future that was in reality completely unknown to me. In my stubbornness, I refused to relinquish control to God. I constantly complained that I wanted to know how to make a wise decision and trust God, but that I didn’t know how. In hindsight, I realize I was blinded by my self-confidence and desire for control.
On April 30, I ran out of time. I had exhausted all earthly wisdom and still could not decide. I spent the day in a haze of anxiety and confused prayer. That night, I spoke to a dear friend and we prayed together, asking desperately and honestly for my fears to be revealed and for guidance in my heart. And God answered! Throughout that conversation, I understood that while both options – either deferring or committing to Harvard in the fall – were not inherently wrong, my heart motives were leading me towards deferring for the wrong reasons.
If I truly trusted God to provide for me in both outcomes, which I knew in my head that he would, I knew in my heart that I’d just go to Harvard. But I was paralyzed by fear of the uncertain future that awaited me in the fall. It would not be the perfect law school picture I had dreamed of and idolized, and I was terrified of having that plan torn to shreds and replaced by something unknown and outside of my plan, whether online or marred by fear of a virus. Even if that new future was in God’s will and provision, I didn’t want it because it wasn’t my plan. Silly me! If I truly trusted God, not just that he had a plan, but that his plan was truly better, I would not have been gripped by the profound terror in which I found myself.
Deferring was really my cop-out option. I had half-heartedly convinced myself that I wanted to pursue the legal fellowship because of the social good that it would do, the opportunities I’d have to serve the disadvantaged, and the “wisdom” of waiting out the pandemic, but my underlying motivation was fear. I so deeply feared an uncertain future at Harvard Law in the fall, one that departed drastically from my “perfect” plan, that deferring and pursuing a fellowship I hadn’t seriously considered until two weeks before seemed like a genuinely better option. I convinced myself that it was “safe.” I could predict how the year would go, live at home, save some money, and (most importantly to me) attend law school “like normal” the next fall. What I really saw in deferring was an alternate path, one that I could forcibly carve, to the perfect law school experience I desired.
My conscience rebelled and conviction set in by the grace of the Holy Spirit. I knew that I faced a choice not really between “safe” and “uncertain,” but between trusting in myself and my plans or God and His. And I had to confront the fact that the outcome of my plan to defer was not predictable or “safe” as I hoped, because I am not God. I have no control over the future; the virus; whether I would enjoy or hate the fellowship; whether my experience this fall would live up to the rose-tinted version of law school I wanted. I’m not God, just a little girl with sinful delusions of being god.
As I considered these things, the Holy Spirit really pressed these verses onto my heart:
- “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
- “I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him” (Ecc. 3:14)
- “For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.” (Ecc. 5:7)
- “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)
God had put the idea of eternity into my heart, yet so that I couldn’t find out what God was doing, to teach me that I am finite and humble me before the eternal God whose perfect plans endure forever, so that I may fear before him. My law school dreams had increased and my words had grown many; I boasted in my arrogance about what would come in the fall, and I had to realize that I had neither feared God nor bowed in submission before his will.
The choice became clear: choose to trust in God’s perfect yet unknowable plans, or choose to retreat to the false safety of my own. And I could choose to trust God because I know him. He is sovereign, he is good, and he loves me. I rest securely and joyfully in the knowledge that He is not only my God, sovereignly making plans in the background of my life, but he also is my Father, intimately involved in my decisions, my future, and most importantly my heart. He adopted me as his daughter with the steep price of His own son, Jesus my savior, proving his enduring and powerful love for me. I know his plans are good and better than my own, because He proved it for eternity by saving me from my sin. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). I am able to choose to trust God’s plans, unknowable as they are to me now, because I trust their author.
I bow in submission to God’s plans because I am a finite, tiny human; I can never know the future, my will has no power, and I boast in my arrogance. I realize that now, and that’s sobering. But I do not relinquish my sinful illusions of grandeur to cower before a big and scary God; I give up these heavy burdens of foolish reliance on my own plans to find rest in my Savior, cradled in the hand of a loving, sovereign, wise Father who will carry me in his will through trial and uncertainty into the good works that he has prepared for me to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). God’s provision doesn’t mean my path will be safe or easy, and it definitely won’t be the picture-perfect law school experience I had in mind, but it will be sweeter to walk through it with my Father. I’m definitely still petrified of what the fall may bring, but my heart rests at peace having chosen to trust not in myself, but in my Father who loves me.